Marrakech is often the first port of call for any visitor to Morocco, its magnificent architecture off-set by the stunning backdrop of the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains. It is a great place to soak up the atmosphere of the country, bright colours, fragrant spices, the hustle and bustle of everyday life all combining to form a veritable symphony for the senses.
At the heart of the city, within the ancient city walls, recognised by UNESCO for its unique heritage as a living, breathing monument – is a vast open square, closed to traffic, filled with the hubbub of people engaged in every type of activity imaginable. Stalls and street-vendors jostle for space with snake- charmers, dancers and fortune-tellers. As the sun goes down, and the locals come out to enjoy the relative cool of the evening, it really comes into its own.
The best way to enjoy the atmosphere is to take to one of the restaurant terraces overlooking the square, order a sweet glass of fresh mint tea and simply sit back and enjoy the unique human tableau unfolding in front of you.
Shoppers will be impressed by the souks of the old medina: organised by trade, they are a labyrinth of tiny stalls and workshops, grouped into carpet-sellers, pottery, fine leatherware, copperware and so on. There has been a revival in traditional crafts of late as these are interpreted and reworked for contemporary taste. There are plenty of bargains to be found – and of course bargaining is all part of the experience. Those whose taste falls more towards designer goods, will not be disappointed by the elegant boutiques of Gueliz, one of the city’s most upmarket modern districts.
If you tire of exploring on foot, take a ride in a traditional horse-drawn carriage, which is a great way of getting around. For a complete change of atmosphere, take a trip around the Palmeraie, the lush gardens comprising over 100,000 trees, or make a tour of the city walls with their numerous gateways, known as ‘Bab’ in Arabic.
We have selected an enticing array of accommodation in Marrakech, focusing on the authentic riad-style small hotels, built around courtyards in the heart of the city, offering a friendly ambience and a taste of true local hospitality.
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